Working from home sounds like a pretty sweet gig. It can mean increased flexibility, a relaxed dress code and an unbeatable commute. You may even be more productive at home, since you have fewer office distractions and co-worker interruptions.
But working from a home office has its challenges, too. You may have different kinds of distractions, especially if family members or housemates are also home. And, when you’re home all day, it’s easy for your work life to creep into your home life.
So, sure, working from home may not always be as sweet as it sounds. But there are several things you can do to strike a positive and productive work-life balance. Here’s what experts recommend:
Create a dedicated workspace. Even if it’s just a desk in the corner of your living room, having a space only for work will help you keep boundaries. When possible, avoid setting your desk up in your bedroom. Your bedroom should feel like a respite from work—not the center of it.
Develop a routine. Start your morning the same way you would if you were going into the office. Take a shower, get dressed, enjoy a cup of coffee.
Have lunch away from your desk. Get up and leave your workspace during lunch. Once you’ve finished eating, use the time to take a walk, work out, play with a pet, connect with family members or other non-work activities.
Don’t let lunch be your only break. Take advantage of your legal right to work breaks. Spend 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon to go for a quick walk or call a friend. And get up from your desk at least once an hour to do some quick stretches or fill your water bottle. Sitting for long periods isn’t healthy at home or in the office.
Save the laundry for later. It’s tempting to do household chores, like laundry or dishes, during the workday. But these chores can blur the lines between home and work, and can also be a way to justify procrastination. Instead, plan to do your chores like you would if you were working in the office. (But, yeah, if you want to throw a load of laundry in at lunch, that’s probably a safe move.)
Keep in touch with friends. It’s normal to miss your work friends when you move to a home office. And, in the age of COVID, you’re likely missing non-work friends, too. When you can’t be together, prioritize that part of your life through regular phone calls and video meet-ups.
Prioritize your health. It’s easy to snack your day away when the pantry’s just down the hall. Be mindful of your diet when you’re working from home—and make sure you get up and move everyday, too.
Share your expectations with family or housemates. Other people may expect you to be more available to them since you’re home. They may want to stop by your workspace to chat throughout the day, or maybe they expect you to make meals or help them with household chores. Explain when it’s OK to interrupt you … and when it’s not.
Create a clear line between work time and personal time. When your workday is done, shut down your computer and close your office door, if you have one. These physical signals can help you mentally separate from work.